FSSA Brings Pictures at an Exhibition

The FSSA Orchestra performs Pictures at an Exhibition.

Modest Mussorgsky wrote Pictures at an Exhibition as a tribute to his friend and Russian Composer Viktor Hartmann. On November 17th, 2017 Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) Symphonic Orchestra and String Orchestra performed their own rendition of the piece in the Tony Bennett Concert Hall.  

Upon first glance, one may not expect to see a concert hall seating 800 people or a classic orchestra setup resembling a professional orchestra at a high school. However, with ushers handing out programs and a stage crew running around behind the scenes, it made one feel as if it were Carnegie Hall. At 7pm, the lights dimmed and the Symphonic Orchestra Woodwinds and Brass came out with alumni conductor Logan Vrakovic, followed by the String Orchestra conducted by Fssa’s Ms. Epstein. The rest of Symphonic Orchestra followed, first conducted by senior instrumental major, Matthew Cuji, finishing with Mr. Lieberson.

Typically, before any orchestra concert students have between three and four months to learn and rehearse the repertoire, but for this concert they only had two months to prepare.

Shaniah John, a senior, who has been the concertmaster for both orchestras for the past two years, describes her experience preparing for the concert specifically the main piece Pictures at an Exhibition.

“We’ve been working on Pictures since September, and since then we have had rigorous rehearsals up until the show date. I personally felt prepared to play it, although I know there were a few things I could have improved on. Overall, I think the show came out to be really good and I think we should all be proud of how all of our hard work paid off,” she said.  

The professional lights added a new element to the performance.

Shaniah played in both String and Symphonic Orchestra and her solo during the La La Land portion of the concert left the audience in awe because of how exquisitely it was played.

“I felt on my part pretty prepared for the show since my job was just to help out or be an extra hand for anyone who needed anything,” says Fatma Oukili, a senior film major. “We did do a whole day of running the show and then a rehearsal after school so we did seem prepared. Instrumental shows are definitely underrated. I think a lot of people are just like ‘Oh it’s just instrumental I don’t have to go.’ but the teachers seem to be working really hard to up the production value of the shows. Especially for this one. It was my first time working and seeing an instrumental concert and personally I thought it was really enjoyable. The effects and lighting added to the enjoyment of the music.”

After the show, senior Principal Bassist Tahj Greaves shared what he thought of the show, and his studio as a whole.

“What I love about instrumental as a whole is we are constantly on task and ready for the next concert. Also, I loved the outcome of this concert the audience’s response was truly on par with our expectations,” he said.  

Ms. Epstein agreed with her principal bassist.

“I thought it was very good. I got great feedback from people and it was the first time having microphones attached to the stands, so I think that made a big difference, because the sound of the orchestra filled the hall. I thought the group was very well balanced. These concerts are underrated because strings don’t have the immediate impact of jazz, rock or pop. It’s one of those things that once you are exposed you love it and if you aren’t exposed then you’ll never know if you like it or not.” she added.

The next instrumental concert the RHAP-SO-DY, Winter Concert on December 20th and 21st.

– by Olivia Reilly ‘18